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Old January 20th, 2003, 01:53 PM
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Hundreds of pets killed, missing

Hundreds of pets killed, missing
January 20, 2003

HUNDREDS of pet cats and dogs are believed to be dead or missing after the Canberra bushfires.

Phone lines to the local dog pound, vets and the dog association ran hot over the weekend as residents tried to locate missing pets, or report animals found wandering lost and disoriented.

But RSPCA ACT executive officer Simon Todd said there had been few reports of injured animals from the worst-affected areas, with most pets either evacuated with their owners or dead.

"Dogs can get out by themselves," he said.

"But cats just go to ground, you wouldn't be able to find your cat to take it (with you)."

The Canberra RSPCA was damaged in the fires, which destroyed more than 400 homes, although most of the animals sheltered there were saved.

The local pound and Canine Association have taken over the task of tracking lost and found pets, and reuniting them with their owners.

Domestic Animal Services manager Dragan Mladenovic said the pound was overflowing, with animals doubled up in cages and many stray animals billeted out with the people who found them.

"We estimate there are about 200 to 300 (homeless and missing pets) and that number could easily double," he said.

Rangers were also collecting dead sheep and horses from burnt paddocks around Canberra suburbs, and about 100 stray horses had been rounded up and taken to the showgrounds in the city's north.

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